Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Impressionism (pt. 18)

Morisot's paintings are not involved with the great multitudes, as were Manet's and Renoir's.  Her quiet scenes of women's more private lives take rather a large step away from the observations of the metropolitan crowd and instead take on the task of viewing and defining the Modern world through the microcosm of personal life.  Here is a painting of A Woman at Her Toilette.
In a way, this painting is connected to the bustling, party scenes of Manet's paintings because this woman is likely preparing to go to such an outing in the imminent future.  What we see, instead of the actual social gathering, are the few minutes before she goes out, when she is in front of her mirror, preparing her makeup and fixing her hair and so on.  It's showing the life of the crowd before entering into the crowd (if that makes sense)—in other words, that this, too, is part of socializing.  This is every bit a part of the Parisian social life as is sitting at the table of a restaurant or walking along sidewalks of a boulevard.  By observing this aspect of "society," then, the artist is still acting as a flâneur in this case.  When considered in this light, this painting's themes (of fashion, popularity, etc.) are the same as those in the Modernist depictions of the Parisian public.  This painting's unfinished look also implies the eagerness with which the woman gets herself ready for the occasion; that it is a brusque few moments in front of the mirror before she dashes out to avoid being late for the party.  On the table to the side of the mirror is an assortment of objects spaced out to look almost like a still life, foreshadowing the emptiness of her room when she leaves in just a few minutes.

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